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Must Tries: Will Yorke on The Vine Leaf, beer, pork pies

Welcome to episode thirty-seven of the Must Tries Series, where Beijing bar and restaurant people give us the top picks from their menus and suggest other places to try, too. Up this time, Will Yorke of The Vine Leaf, who previously made picks for sibling establishment The Vineyard. Look for Yorke to open a third place in the spring.

will-yorke-vineyard-cafe-1What is the “must try” food at Vine Leaf?

Steak and Ale Pie (rmb68): We slow cook beef steak pieces in homemade beef stock and homemade English Ale and serve it with mashed potato, peas, baby carrots and gravy.

What is the “must try” beer?

We offer up to five beers, if we can, but the biggest sellers are the Longbowmen English Session Ale made with English hops and English yeast, a real smooth “slip down” beer, and the Pilgrim’s Progress USA Amber Ale made with U.S. hops and U.S. yeast, a fruity, aromatic smooth ale.

What is the “must try” food you hope to add?

I have been fighting with pork pies for a while. If I can make a pork pie like it is done in the UK then I will be happy. Customers are very keen on the Scotch egg we already have on the menu, but it needs a big brother – the pork pie – then I can put together a nice ploughman’s “lunch” for the summer.

I already have a number of pickles I am maturing, including a plum chutney made with plums I picked up from the Huairou mountains on the way to the Gung Ho mountain hideout.

What are three “must try” foods or drinks you’ve had elsewhere in Beijing?

From DS wines, the Clos Dominic Vinyes Baixes 2007, a Spanish Priorat red wine – made with Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Picapoll. And the Gramona III Lustros 2005 Gran Reserva Cava – like a high-end Champagne but at an affordable Champagne price. (Both are now available at Vineyard Cafe.)

Food-wise, we go to Suzumei Japanese restaurant a lot as their sashimi is great.

The yang rou chuanr on the crossroads north of Chun Xiu Lu South Road mouth (the crossroads by the Holiday Inn) are a weekly must. There is no indoor seating, so in the winter it is only for the brave.

I enjoy a burger at Frost.

Most of the time I grab something on my way home as I don’t have a lot of time to enjoy eating out as I need to get home to get the kid to bed.